We have successfully cured boredom.
The device Steve Jobs paraded around back in 2007, now owned by most in the first world, provides at our fingertips, on-demand, anything we could imagine.
The news as soon as it happens. Sports results LIVE. A backlog of television in seasons to binge where and whenever you want. Endless video games.
It’s almost impossible to be bored anymore.
We know it isn’t great to be bored. It’s the opposite of happiness (whatever that may be?). But we need a little boredom.
We need to be able to sit with our thoughts, even if we are going through a crisis or a bad event. We need to confront this truth.
We need to do some work, even when we don’t feel like it.
And what do we do when we are bored or procrastinating? We look for distraction.
And where does that distraction come from?
Sports, movies, television, news, and video games.
Your attention and behaviour are valuable, more valuable than you would believe.
The ability to distract you away from what is truly important becomes the goal almost.
More eyes, more ads, more dollars.
If you’re okay with that, that’s fine. And I think most people are.
It’s their way to relax and escape a difficult day. Again, that’s fine.
Now to cue in my eccentric opinion. I have a problem with it.
That’s why I make an effort to avoid “popular media” as we will call it. I sound crazy, but let me explain.
I have these goals and dreams that I want to pursue as nothing else matter.
If you have these crazy ideas you want to pursue, if you want to stand out from the crowd, and to be unique, you need to be willing to do what not many do.
The first step is avoiding popular media.
And many people don’t give up on the news, sports, or television… you get it.
Most of the news is irrelevant to your daily life. So, why stay attentive to what is going on in the world through the lens of the media?
The lens of the media is designed to steal your focus with catchy headlines. Additionally, we as humans have a negativity bias: bad news sticks and captivates, and good news disappears. Knowing this and knowing that attention is today’s gold, the news is designed to be both luring and depressing.
Recession! War! Crime! Bad politicians.
It’s very real. But is it within your control? Is what we’ve been told the most representative picture? Probably not.
And if you’re worried about not being informed, if you have friends who aren’t as crazy as I am, they will filter out the nonsense for you, preserving your attention.
The same can be said about sports. I admire athletes. I admire how hard they work and the circumstances they had to overcome to get to where they are today. And that’s it.
There are many world cups, seasons, and events that occur. All in isolation. They keep happening with different people. It’s a good way to socialise with others, but nothing worth getting obsessed over.
Popular culture movies are now the same. Massive marketing budgets are deployed to increase the anticipation towards a movie. It’s filled with eye-stimulating CGI to keep you glued. But do you walk away a better person? Is your mind challenged or changed in any way? Did you learn anything new? That’s the sole purpose of art - to make you think. Or, were you just entertained for that period of time?
Though there is quality, the best way to make money is through quantity: how fast can you serve decent quality content? Reduce time coming up and taking risks with new plots, characters and franchises and utilise pre-existing universes. Now we get an endless array of sequels, and TV spinoffs to keep you constantly entertained, taking your attention.
Binge-worthy streaming episodes are batched in series to keep you hooked. Each episode ends with a cliffhanger, like a Dan Brown novel, and then it auto-plays the next episode.
To finally make B. F Skinner proud, we have video games. I remember video games used to be an hour of decompression and then you could move on with your life. Not anymore. Games have become more and more addicting.
“Just one more game…” becomes staying awake until 5 am.
I apologise for going on a tangent, and I do realise the importance of moderation. But at the same time, it’s difficult to consume in moderation because public media is designed to keep your attention.
It’s like telling an alcoholic to stop thinking about alcohol and to have a casual drink on the weekend. Or a smoker to smoke in moderation.
And for what I want in life, it’s better I avoid these things.
And even I’m a hypocrite because I will watch shorts on YouTube unnecessarily or doom scroll some social media application unaware that my thoughts are being trained on a precarious machine learning algorithm. I try my best.
A big downside to all of this is that you become more and more alienated from society, friends and family.
I find it difficult to engage in social gatherings because my mind is elsewhere or I’m not clued up on public events.
You aren’t a “normal” person, but what is “normal” anyway?